Cuadrilla was forced to halt fracking for shale gas in the north of England after a third earth tremor was detected in three days, with the most recent reaching a magnitude of 1.1 on the Richter scale.
The mini-quake forced the Cuadrilla, which was hydraulically fracking an exploration site in Lancashire, to pause operations for 18 hours – the third time it has done so since restarting operations on October 15.
Although, at such a low level, the tremors cannot be felt at ground level, they have raised questions over the energy company’s activity, especially after Cuadrilla was forced to cease fracking entirely in 2011 after a number of tremors that measured as high as 2.3 on the Richter scale.
“As we have said many times this level is way below anything that can be felt at surface and a very long way from anything that would cause damage or harm,” the company said.
A spokeswoman for the company said its operations remained broadly on track, the tremors will be an all too real concern for Caudrilla chief executive Francis Eagan, who hopes to proves the UK’s inland gas reserves are commercially viable.
The events at the New Preston Road site are the latest problem for UK gas after the country’s energy market was forced to turn to the more affordable coal in September amid surging gas prices.